Commissioner asks to ban smoking in city parks | NevadaAppeal.com
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Commissioner asks to ban smoking in city parks

DAVE FRANK
Appeal staff writer

Carson City should take away a child’s risk of breathing tobacco smoke or being burned by cigarettes when playing in city parks, according to Kathryn Shabi, a member of the Carson City Parks and Recreation Commission.

The commission will talk about Shabi’s idea, which would ban smoking at city park playgrounds, at their meeting Tuesday.

The problem became obvious, she said, when she took her 2-year-old granddaughter to a crowded park and saw several smokers standing around the playground.

No one was burned by a cigarette, she said, but “I did watch a lot of kids have to stand in secondhand smoke clouds.”

Smoking is banned inside city park buildings, but is allowed in outdoor parks. Under state law, it is also banned in areas such as government buildings, certain medical offices, and restaurants and bars with food service.

If Carson City limited smoking in its at least 11 playgrounds, it would be the first in Nevada, said Cindy Roragen, director of the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, a group that supports strong antismoking laws.

The plan is an “excellent idea,” she said, because it will help keep children safe.

There are also several local governments outside Nevada that have banned smoking in parks, including several cities in California.

Smoking around playgrounds is “irritating,” said Donna Curtis, head of the parks commission, but it isn’t clear how the ban would be enforced.

The city could put up signs suggesting that people don’t smoke, and smokers would probably respect that, she said.

This might be the only thing that could be done even if the commission wants a ban.

The parks department doesn’t have the money, staff or time to enforce such a ban, said Scott Fahrenbruch, parks director of operations, and staff already has “reservations” about whether outdoor smoking is actually a health hazard.

The department has had to cut three full-time positions and 15 seasonal positions over the last two years, he said, and has only one park ranger who can give on-the-spot citations.

Now is not a good time to add more responsibilities, he said, because “we’re down to the bare bones.”

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.